Sweaty palms… Butterflies in your stomach… A frog in your throat…. Your heart thumping so loudly you swear everyone can hear it….
Let’s face it, public speaking is nerve wracking!
Your entire body reacts before, during and after your presentation, even if it’s just a 5-minute introduction of yourself. It is one of the most dreaded activities (right up there with the dreaded nightmare of rats crawling all over you in the middle of the night)! Individuals consistently shy away from speaking in public and the effects are long-lasting, both professionally and personally.
My public speaking journey started at a young age delivering speeches in large congregations. At that time, I realized that practice is so critical in effectively delivering a speech. While remembering the words to my speech, I had to keep my tone, pace, modulation, gestures and eye contact in mind. My father used to write the words “SLOW DOWN” in the margins of my paper as the tendency is to rush thru the delivery, so you are out of the limelight and can safely sit back in your seat. I had to consciously remember to look up from my notes and find a few individuals to visually connect with in the audience. Body language also played an important role when delivering my speeches as I was able to stress certain messages which stood me out from the competition.
Now after working in the corporate world for over 20 years, I realize that while practice is essential, this doesn’t mean that the speech needs to be rehearsed a million times. In fact, if the presentation is continuously practiced, emotion and impact is depleted from the delivery when it really matters. The key concept to understand is that the ease and comfortability of an individual speaking to an audience comes with practice, but not rehearsing the same speech. The familiarity of speaking in front of an audience several times boosts one’s confidence. In addition, the speaker’s nonverbal communication plays a critical role in the audience receiving the content.
To confidently deliver effective presentations and creatively develop your leadership, analytical and public speaking skills is an empowering gift that you should invest in, cherish and extract the value of your true potential.
It truly is an art!